Ever since Zack Snyder’s film 300 was released to the movie theaters in 2007, it almost immediately fell under bombardment of strongly negative movie-reviews. For example, in his review of 300, Smith (2007) have gone as far as accusing director of being a Nazi: “It isn’t a stretch to imagine Adolf’s boys at a “300” screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lininig up to see it again” (New York Post).
And, the only reason why particularly ‘progressive’ critics go berserk, every time the name of this particular Snyder’s movie is being mentioned, is because 300 glorifies certain existential virtues, which hawks of political correctness want people to refer to as ‘sexist’, ‘chauvinist’ and ‘racist’, such as courageousness, loyalty, freedom-loving and industriousness.
Nevertheless, whatever the ironical it might sound – by having represented the battle of Thermopylae in the way he did, Snyder had simply proven his allegiance to the ideals of multiculturalism. After all, multiculturalism is about allowing people from different ethnic backgrounds to explore their cultural uniqueness. And, that includes White people as well.
Film 300, is director’s own retelling of the famous story of how three hundred Spartans, headed by King Leonidas, had fought the hordes of barbarians from Asia, who wanted to enslave freedom-loving Sparta.
And, given director’s highly personal stance in retelling this story, it comes as no surprise that it is namely the fact that film contains a variety of historical accuracies, which critics point out to as its main drawback. In her article, Elston (2009) states: “The film 300 has developed an almost-immediate cult following since its March 2007 release.
Yet the movie’s success hinges upon the conflation of conservative nationalism with epic heroism, serving as an example of both distorted history and displaced mass identification” (58). Nevertheless, despite the fact that 300, cannot be referred to as utterly accurate, in historical sense of this word, it portrays what had driven courageous Spartans to defy Persian ‘god-King’ Xerxes with utter exactness.
Apparently, the cultural uniqueness, on the part of White people, does not solely refer to their talent in baby-making, as it is usually the case with people in Third World countries, but to their acute sense of freedom. It is namely because Whites have traditionally been endowed with such a sense, which allowed them to facilitate cultural, scientific and social progress, throughout the course of known history.
And, as Snyder’s movie implies – one’s willingness to appreciate freedom is being genetically rather than socially predetermined. This is essentially the foremost idea that is being promoted, throughout movie’s entirety. Nevertheless, despite this idea’s clearly controversial sounding, the realities of today’s living point out at its full validity.
For example, it is not a secret that Prime Minister of Sweden often uses public transportation to get to his office. He does it to increase his popularity among citizens and it works. On the other hand, if the king of Saudi Arabia had done the same, his own people would probably depose him on the next day, because it would automatically deprive him of his subjects’ respect.
Therefore, in order for Saudi King to enjoy the respect of ordinary Saudians, he needs to keep building private palaces that cost milliards of dollars apiece, to buy most exclusive cars in the world and to have hordes of top fashion models following him, everywhere he goes.
Apparently, despotism, as the form of government, appeals to Saudis. In its turn, it reveals them as people with atrophied sense of freedom – slaves by calling. The same can be said about people in other non-White countries, for whom the concepts of democracy and freedom simply do not appeal. And, it is namely the fact that King Leonidas in Snyder’s film refers to the Persians as ‘natural born slaves’, which leaves very few doubts as to the fact that, while filming 300, director never ceased being aware of slavery’s conceptual essence.
The Leonidas’ monologues, featured in the film, substantiate the validity of an earlier suggestion, as they reveal people’s ability to appreciate freedom as something rather unconditional: “The world will know that free men stood against the tyrant. That few stood against many” (01.00. 45).
Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest Snyder’s movie offers clearly unconventional view on slavery – most slaves are not those who have been forced into slavery, but those who became slaves by choice. In its turn, this explains why, throughout the course of history, there has not been even a single incident of slaves freeing themselves from oppression.
Another interesting aspect about Snyder’s film is that it effectively dispels the myth of Asians’ ‘sophistication’, which in 20th century had found its way into the minds of decadent Whites, due to their bellyful idleness. In time when Whites grow weak, they become fascinated by what they perceive as ‘eastern exotics’. For example, a so-called New Age philosophy, heavily imbedded in Buddhism, is now being particularly popular with ‘progressive’ Whites, addicted to organic coffee.
However, the closer analysis of ‘exotic’ philosophical concepts, originated in the East, reveal them as being quite inconsistent with the workings of White people’s mentality. Whereas; Whites, actualize themselves by taking advantage of their will-power, Easterners actualize themselves by suppressing their will-power, as the ‘pathway to suffering’. And, it is only the matter of time, before those deprived of a will to live, would be submitted into slavery.
Thus, another important idea that is being promoted by 300, can be articulated as follows: it is in the blood of free-loving people to view one’s ‘exotic sophistication’ as an indication of such individual’s endowment with the mentality of a slave, regardless of how rich and powerful he or she might be.
In its turn, this explains why, upon being exposed to the sight of Persian ‘god-king’ Xerxes, embellished with gold, viewers cannot help but perceiving him as nothing but ‘natural born slave’ himself. Apparently, Snyder wanted to endorse an idea that there is a civilization, on one hand, and barbarianism, on another, with nothing in the middle.
This idea, however, is not quite as irrational as it might appear at the first glance. After all, it is namely science that makes social and cultural progress possible. And, it is only ideologically and religiously non-oppressed people, who may excel in indulging in scientific pursuits.
Therefore, 300 is best defined as the movie that glorifies the notion of a so-called ‘White man’s burden’, concerned with bringing the light of civilization to savages. In the light of this notion, Europe’s imperialism and colonialism appear as something utterly beneficial to both: colonizers and colonized.
As it was rightly pointed out by Dabashi (2007): “The increasingly ahistorical significance of these battles between the Ancient Greeks and the Achamanid Empire (as portrayed in 300) corresponds squarely to the expansion of European colonialism and its concomitant self-conception of “the West” as the generic rubric under which Europeans launched their global conquest” (Al-Ahram).
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that in 300, director simply strived to popularize the notion of freedom, while remaining politically unengaged.
In 2007, the political tensions between U.S. and Iran were probably at all times high, which explains Iranian officials’ strongly negative reaction to Snyder’s movie. In his article, Soltis (2007) states: “Iran blasted Hollywood’s latest blockbuster yesterday, saying it spreads lies about a 2,500-year-old battle in order to launch a cultural war against Iranians.
Iranians, including thousands who signed an online petition denouncing the film, say it portrays their ancient forbears as crazed monsters” (New York Post). In other words, Snyder’s 300 can be referred as the tool of psychological warfare that America’s government is currently waging on Iran.
What has been stated earlier, leaves no doubt as to the fact that the actual significance of Snyder’s 300 should be discussed within the context of a civilization vs. barbarianism discourse. This discourse is essentially euro-centric, as it does correlates with how White assess surrounding reality and their place in it, regardless of whether they do it consciously or unconsciously.
In his article, Leupp (2007) states: “Miller-Snyder’s Xerxes is not even an Iranian-looking man but (like some other Persians in the film) a distinctly African figure, who happens to be effeminate and wholly vicious. Leonidas in contrast is White and manly and wholly heroic in his fight for “freedom” (Counter Punch). It goes without saying, of course, that Snyder’s film does intensifies racism-related anxieties, on the part of ‘ethnically unique’ citizens.
Yet, it is not the ‘cultural sensitivity’, which had allowed Westerners to ensure their undisputed dominance in the world, but their endowment with psychological qualities that are being glorified in Snyder’s film. 300 is the movie for Whites made by Whites. Those who get insulted by the motifs, contained in it, have an option of not watching it, in the first place.
300. Dir. Zack Snyder. Perfs. Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West. Legendary Pictures, 2010.
Leupp, Gary “A Racist and Insulting Film”. 2007. Counter Punch. 19 Nov. 2010.
Elston, Melissa “Xerxes in Drag: Post-9/11 Marginalization and (Mis) Identification in 300”. Disclosure, 18.3 (2009): 58-74.
Smith, Kyle “Persian Shrug”. 2007. New York Post. 19 Nov. 2010. http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/item_y97Fbbt4trHpCh9pg2j9AJ;jsessionid=4B5FC787E22FD8B64AF58B38CB855D43
Dabashi, Hamid “The ‘300’ Stroke”. 2007. Al-Ahram. 19 Nov. 2010.
Soltis, Andy “Iran Blasts 300”. 2007. New York Post. 19 Nov. 2010.